To Keep or Not To Keep: How Long Will Varitek Continue To Play For the Red Sox?

Mikey TolvoCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2008

The Red Sox are in the middle of a playoff push, but there is another question that they will have to look over this offseason—an offseason, sad to say, which may come sooner than they hope.

This is Tek's 11th year with the Red Sox, and the way he handles the pitching staff has been invaluable. He is great with all the pitchers, but when he is facing pitchers at the plate, his production has been dropping.

In 2007, the captain's numbers were decent. He had a .255 average and 17 homers, and he was still performing a little above average. But one thing that Varitek has never been is a clutch hitter.

He has only reached the 80 RBI mark once in his career. Even if he wasn't clutch, in the past, he hit home runs and could put up the singles and doubles. But this year, even those numbers have been dropping.

His .223 average this year is the worst it's ever been. His home run production is second worse in his entire career, if you don't count his rookie season and the 2001 season he was injured.

Varitek's stats are far from the stats of his best year, which was 2005. His .281 average and 22 homers earned him the Silver Slugger award at catcher that year. The same year he won his only Gold Glove Award.

You look at his stats in 2005, and at his stats this season, and you will really see a big drop. This is the final year of his contract, in which he is being paid around $10 million. Maybe it's time the Red Sox be looking for a replacement.

I think that the only reason Theo Epstein is holding on to Tek is because of his fielding and leadership skills. I don't now if I am happy or sad to say this, but this season may be Jason Varitek's final year in a Red Sox uniform.